What is strabismus?
Strabismus or squint is a deviation to the position of the eye so that both eyes are no longer directed towards the same point. The condition usually develops in childhood, but can also occur in adults.
There are various forms of strabismus:
- The commonest form of strabismus, convergent strabismus, involves one eye (sometimes both) turning towards the nose
- Divergent strabismus means the eye turns outwards
- The eye can also turn upwards (sursum vergens) or downwards (deosum vergens)
Squint occurs in about 2-5% of children and is more common after the first year of life. The abnormal eye position is experienced as ugly, which often means these children are teased. However, strabismus is not only an aesthetic problem. The main reason for the detection and treatment of squint at an early age is to prevent the eye from becoming lazy (amblyopia).
When squint occurs at a young age the child rarely suffers from double vision. The duplicate image is suppressed within the brain. If the image provided by one eye is suppressed for a long time, this eye will not develop properly, causing vision to deteriorate (lazy eye) with certain visual details no longer clear. When both eyes develop squint and images are supressed alternatively, the chance of developing amblyopia is small. A lazy eye will not heal without treatment and can only be successfully treated in children up the age of approximately 7 years.
If squint develops after the eighth year of life or in adulthood, the ability of the brain to suppress the duplicate image is lost. Squint will therefore not lead to lazy eye because the brain functions are already fully developed. The person will therefore suffer from double vision, as signals from both eyes are converted into separate images.
More information on strabismus or lazy eye? Make your appointment at Focus Eye Clinic today.